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‘Swapping’ your EU card in a no-deal Brexit

Several readers have asked questions regarding swapping an EU citizen’s permanent residency card for a new non-EU citizen carte de résident in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

11 October 2019
The carte de séjour - séjour permanent would allow for a simple exchange in the case of no-deal
By Oliver Rowland

The issue of swapping has come to the forefront this week with the launch of the new official French government website for British people living in France to apply for cards relevant to a no-deal Brexit.

This is because a no-deal Brexit is the current default position and is due to take place at the end of this month.

Applications or exchanges can be made at the site now but no applications will be processed until a no-deal is confirmed and takes place.

The reason for referring to a ‘swap’ or ‘exchange’ is because contrary to other kinds of application for residency cards there is an automatic right to a card as opposed to officials having to study supporting documents such as utility bills, proofs of income and healthcare cover etc.

Those with the carte de séjour – séjour permanent (‘10-year card’) would simply provide proof of identity (ie. a scan of their passport) and a scan of the EU card, so as to obtain the carte de résident de longue durée – UE, a card that guarantees similar rights to live and work in France for long-term non-EU citizen residents.

This non-EU citizen’s card is backed up by EU law and means the person may stay in the country as long as they like as long as they are not deemed to pose a serious danger (eg. due to being involved in terrorism etc).

However a ‘swap’ does not exempt the holder from having to visit their prefecture to pay a fee for the card (€100 plus an administration fee of €19 so a total of €119) and give new passport photographs and fingerprints.

This would be an obligation even if fingerprints were previously given. Giving fingerprints involves simply putting your fingers under a small desktop scanning machine for a few seconds.

Note that the fee of €119 being charged for the non-EU citizen’s card is at a reduced price compared to the same cards when issued to other non-EU citizens, who pay €269.

If a no-deal takes place the dossier from the online application will be passed to the applicant’s prefecture and the prefecture (or sous-préfecture) will contact them and invite them to come in for these formalities. It will be left to each prefecture to organise this in their own way, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said.

People should note that the applications for the carte de résident, or other applications via the new French website that launched on Wednesday would only be processed if there is a no-deal Brexit.

It is unclear as yet if the same dossiers could be kept to be used in the case of Brexit with a deal, however in that case Britons would probably be issued with a different kind of card.

EU law experts told Connexion prior to the Brexit referendum that obtaining an EU citizen’s permanent residency card would help to secure Britons’ residency rights if the UK was to leave the EU hence we have advised doing so since the Brexit vote.

In February last year a top French official confirmed that those able to prove EU permanent residency with a card would be prioritised​.

However the new website is not for applying for an EU citizen's card, it is for applications for non-EU citizens' cards as relevant to a no-deal Brexit scenario.

You can find the new government site at

If you have applied for a residency card via the site and have feedback on how the site can be improved please forward it to

The French Interior Ministry, which launched the site, has asked for relevant suggestions to be forwarded to them by Connexion.

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